Perspectives on Trade Secrets in Europe

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Know-how or confidential business information (trade secrets) are important for the competitiveness of European businesses. These intangible assets are fundamental to their innovation and research efforts. Their adequate and harmonised protection across Europe therefore represents an invaluable factor for growth and jobs.

A Belgian research-based SME, a 3rd generation family-owned Italian stainless steel producer and a European SME association reflect on the importance of trade secrets, provide a practical case study and analyse how EU legislation will foster innovation and strengthen competitiveness in the EU.


Nanocyl was established in 2002 as a result of a collaboration between the Universities of Liège and Namur. Initially a “start-up” consisting of only 2 people, the research-based SME has developed to comprise 45 people in 2014, of which 15 work in the R&D department.

Nanocyl is a global leader in the marketing and production of multi-wall carbon nanotubes and conductive masterbatches. Nanocyl exports its products throughout the world, notably to the Asian market (Japan, China, South Korea). Nanocyl sells carbon nanotubes NC7000™ (annual capacity of 400 T/year) either in powder form, or pre-dispersed in a matrix in the form of masterbatches or liquid dispersions. Nanocyl products improve the different specific properties of materials in the areas of Transport, Energy, Sports and other industrial solutions.


As the European SME umbrella organisation representing the interests of European crafts, trades and SMEs at EU level, UEAPME incorporates 80 member organisations from 34 countries consisting of national cross-sectorial SME federations, European branch federations and other associate members.

UEAPME represents more than 12 million enterprises, which employ around 55 million people across Europe. The majority of UEAPME members are micro-entreprises with fewer than 10 employees. UEAPME is a recognised European Social Partner and is a non-profit seeking and non-partisan organisation.


Founded in 1925 in Vicenza, Italy, Valbruna is a 3rd generation family-owned business that has become a leading producer and distributor of bars and wires in stainless steel and special metal alloys, which are used in several different high-tech industries like the oil and gas, power generation and aerospace sectors.

Valbruana is one of the few remaining European stainless steel producers in Europe and has manufacturing facilities located in Italy in the cities of Vicenza and Bolzano. Valbruna has approximately 1500 employees and produces more than 170,000 metric tons of special high quality steels every year with consolidated annual sales of about 800 million Euros.

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